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New River Valley Occupational Therapy services in Radford, Virginia - the unsung hero

Occupational Therapy: An Unsung Hero

Physical therapy has consistently been portrayed as the hero for injury recovery and prevention. Most of the general public understands what physical therapy is, how it works and its benefits (if not, check out this blog post). Many know how physical therapy (PT) helps us recover from an injury or regain strength after surgery. You may have experienced PT yourself, or at least witnessed someone else going through it, after a fall or for a sprained ankle.

The education around the basics of physical therapy is great! And as a physical therapy practice, we are could not be more thrilled. However, there is an unsung hero under the therapy umbrella that is less known but saves lives every day. 

Meet occupational therapy! 

April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month and we want to explain more about what occupational therapy is, its benefits and how you can take advantage of its services in the New River Valley!

What is Occupational Therapy

Like with any superhero, we need to explain their superpower in order for you to see the real benefit. So, what exactly is Occupational Therapy? By textbook definition, it is

“a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life."

Let’s break that down. Occupational therapy is specifically designed for individuals (both children and adults) with physical or mental illnesses and/or disabilities. These specific disabilities make it hard for individuals to perform everyday tasks that are used in one’s daily life.

Occupational therapy covers a variety of physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, down syndrome, developmental delay, spina bifida, learning difficulties, autism, sensory processing disorders and much more.

The goal of an occupational therapist is to teach these affected individuals how to adapt and function in spite of their disability. Therapists utilize a variety of strategies and tactics in order to provide long-lasting solutions.

Areas of Focus

As we mentioned above, Occupational Therapy is designed for those with physical and mental disabilities. OT therapists can help individuals with the following:

  • ADLs (activities of daily living):  Things such as dressing, bathing, toileting and grooming.
  • IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living):  Includes cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and pet and child care.
  • Sleep/Rest
  • Leisure:  These include recreation and play for both children and adults.
  • Education:  Includes writing, organizational skills, reading, and other school-based learning items. For pediatric patients, this can include cutting with scissors as well as opening or closing bookbags, folders and etc.
  • Fine & Gross Motor Skills:  Focuses on using small muscles within the hand and wrist to help with skills such as grasping and releasing, as well as how individuals move their bodies.
  • Visual Motor Integration and Precipitation Skills:  Includes moving the body in response to what is seen, hand-eye coordination and understanding what the eye is actually seeing.
  • Sensory Processing Skills:  Helps individuals understand how to interpret sensations.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Now that we have covered the basics of OT, let’s look at some of the benefits (and there are quite a few). We will just stick to five main benefits of occupational therapy. Interested in learning more? Visit our Occupational Therapy Page to see real testimonials.

  1. Helps individuals overcome struggles of everyday life
    Occupational Therapy allows individuals the opportunity to overcome struggles that they face every day. These struggles can include doing laundry, washing dishes, etc. For younger individuals, it typically starts with learning how to tie shoes, write with a pencil and pick up objects. By implementing OT practices and strategies, individuals are able to learn alternative ways to complete tasks.

    For example, in the set of images below, you will see a PRA patient who is now able to fold their clothes on their own. With the folding tool used, this patent was able to focus on bigger tasks and get assistance in areas that might be more difficult due to limitations.

  2. Increases independence
    Independence is very underrated when it is accessible. For those that don’t have that option, occupational therapy opens the possibility. OT is the only therapy that’s main focus is to help individuals improve self-care skills.

    Occupational therapy works directly with individuals to ensure that they can do as much as possible for themselves, this includes getting dressed, bathing and even fixing meals.

    The gift of independence alone makes a world of difference in the life of both children and adults.

  3. Provides assistance to caregivers
    People tend to forget about those who are left with the big job of caring for i individuals who need assistance. These caregivers can be parents, family members, or even close friends, in some cases. Occupational therapy creates a series of guidelines and processes that can be used by caregivers. This is especially helpful when around-the-clock professional care isn’t affordable or available.

    The main goal of occupational therapists is to ensure that individuals in need are receiving the proper care in a variety of settings. By training the caregivers, individuals can continue to receive quality programs both during their therapy sessions and at home, which is important for consistency and treatment.

  4. Prepares children for a more successful future
    When it comes to pediatric occupational therapy it is important to give children the best foundation possible. The goal of pediatric OT is to ensure that issues are being addressed early so that they can be treated. Whether it is sensory issues or fine motor skills, OT provides opportunities for children to grow into the best they can be.

  5. Provides a better outlook on life
    After gaining more independence and learning how to overcome everyday struggles, many OT patients have a better outlook on life. Occupational Therapy doesn’t just benefit the physical but also plays a big role in the mental health of individuals.

    Occupational therapy opens the door to show patients and individuals that there is still a reason to live and that all is not lost, regardless of their mental or physical disability. OT provides the confidence and determination that each person needs in order to live a fulfilling life.

So, the next time you hear the term Occupational Therapy, we hope that you remember the tale of the unsung hero. At Professional Rehab Associates, Inc. in the New River Valley of Virginia, we have seen firsthand how OT has helped so many people experience freedom and independence from a disease or disability.

Occupational therapy has saved the lives of many and will continue to do so. CLICK HERE for more information about Occupational Therapy services in Radford, Virginia and how you can become a patient of Professional Rehab Associates today.

Contact Us

(540) 639-5786

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Contact Person
Nolan Stewart


Mon - Fri: 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sat & Sun: Closed

Our Location

1200 Tyler Avenue
Radford, Virginia 24141

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